This is a dark, dense and heady narrative, and not always easy to keep up with. Eco offers much food for thought, as he brings a candle into the cavern of political intrigue of mid-19th century Europe, and in it's shadow we see some ghastly goings on there. The main character of this novel, Simone Simonini, is purported to be the only fictional character to appear on Eco's stage. Simonini has been trained as a "forger," one who makes copies of documents that have been lost, or whose existence was obvious to those who needed them - most innocent of these would be a "lost" last will and testament, as specified by those who remained after the deceased, and would stand to profit. Simonini becomes involved with the secret service of the Piedmont Government, and is hired on as a forgerer and "fixer". Ultimately he must leave Italy, settles in Paris, where he continues in this same vein, working for the French Secret Service setting snares for revolutionaries and enemies of Napoleon III, amongst other more questionable activities. Simonini is a singular individual, a most cynical and dislikable character, yet given the backdrop of his life, the upbringing of an equally cynical grandfather, in a time of general distrust, there is at least a level of understanding that amounts to pity that can be afforded the man. Once in Paris, he finds that he has some how lost his memory, and seems to be suffering either visits of an intruder, or is something else going on here entirely?! I would listen to this novel again, if only because it is so very dense; for me it will require a second time to truly gain all that it has to offer.
Not only would I listen to all 6 parts of the story again, I have been telling all of my friends about it; a novel, and narrative performance that I find very little to be critical of. The story is fresh and full of depth. Aspects of the supernatural streamed naturally into this story, from the very first chapter, and I shared the fantastic trip of the heroine and hero through their experiences through uncharted psychic and for all purposes physical ground; like an extended dream. Murakami has an uncluttered manner, that brings clarity and simplicity to an imaginative and well written story. I couldn't stop listening. I do not like to discuss plot, as I often find that tedious and annoying to read. Unless it helps to make a strong point, I don't like to reveal details. Particularly in this book, the surprises are each like little origami boxes, each with a gift in side, sometimes much larger than the box it arrives in. A story with romance, intrigue, mystery, and magic, as well as the opportunity to ponder questions of existence - what is there not to like about that. I would love to see this book dramatized for cinema.
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